Since becoming an adult and having my own place I have had a weekly ritual that has served me well. Friday is for cleaning, Saturday is for fun and Sunday is to prepare for the week to come. Even as a foster parent this has served me well. It is Sunday evening and I am preparing for my week. As I was mentally going over the list of what needs to get done this week, and when, it hit me that our home has been empty now for over a year. Empty of a placement, certainly not empty of children. For a childless couple this sometimes seems a bit strange at times.
My focus this week is that Stinkerbell will be turning three. I am helping her mom with some of her party details including the cake. Stinkerbell has known the style of cake she has wanted for her birthday for several months as she has conspired with my mom and the other little loves in my life. For some reason they all think that I can move mountains and make their cake dreams reality. I am not always so convinced of this.
In fact the past couple of weeks I have been quite stressed over the process needed for this cake. So much so that I did a test run of the techniques needed to see if I could really do this without totally ruining a toddler’s dream. Based on this test run I know when I need to bake the cake, when to construct and frost it, how long it needs to stay frozen before I can glaze it, and so on. I am still stressed.
As per my normal Sunday routine I am doing a run down of events this week including the schedule for making the cake. That is when it all came to me. Stinkerbell has been officially home now for a year. I wanted to send a congratulatory text to her mom. This is a big deal and her mom deserves praise. Then I had to sit for a minute.
Stinkerbell has been officially home for a year.
That means our home has been without a foster placement for over a year. The realization of that fact suddenly made me very sad for a moment. Rent-a-Dad and I had planned a few months break from fostering when Stinkerbell returned home. It made perfect sense. She had been our longest placement. We needed time for us, time to catch up on foster training, and time to be available if Stinkerbell or her family needed us.
Shortly after the trial home period was completed our home status returned to normal and we have been awaiting a placement since. Other than our emergency placement in November we have not received any other calls. Our caseworker has told us of the many near calls but no actual placement has happened. On one hand that makes us sad but on the other hand our home may be empty of foster children but it is in no way empty.
Today has been the first day in over a week that our home has not had a child in it. That has been our normal since starting our journey as foster parents. The children who have come into our care have never quite left our hearts or our home. We don’t have to wonder for very long how they are doing because the longest we have gone between visits is two weeks. With three children having been in our care and returning for regular visits it is a bit like a revolving door at our house. So yes, for now our home is empty of foster children but our hearts, and home, are very full with the sound of busy happy toddlers.
After my moment of sadness of an empty home, I got over it. My week is full up of love and happiness. It is packed with the same busy tasks every parent has and yes, I am terrified that this cake is going to be a hot mess. No, I am not your typical parent. Heck, this week I am not even your typical foster parent.
Some days that news saddens me because my brain was raised with words like “normal” and “typical ”. Today I just smile and shake my head. I have all the love and worries that a regular run of the mill parent has. I just don’t always have the children living under my roof. The fact that they are all safe and happy children is enough for me. I can deal with not being normal or typical. After all I don’t have time to worry about that, I have a cake to worry about making!